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DAVIS et al. v. AMERICAN ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION.
44263.
Action on note. Charlton Superior Court. Before Judge Hodges.
DEEN, Judge.
Where a motion for judgment on the pleadings is converted into a motion for summary judgment in accordance with Code Ann. 81A-112 (c), the opposing party is entitled to an additional 30 days in which to present evidence in opposition thereto.
The defendant Davis and his wife bought furniture for a Holiday Inn motel giving a note and bill of sale to secure debt which the seller assigned for value to plaintiff American Acceptance Corp. Thereafter, Davis sold the motel and its furnishings to Folkston Motel Corporation, which the defendant contends to be in fact a partnership. The Davis note was payable in installments of $3,448.34 per month, and the installments on the note due him from Folkston Motel were so conditioned that the vendee was required to pay installments due American Acceptance Corporation directly to it deducting the amount paid from installments due to Davis and that Davis' deed was described in the instrument as "subject to the effect of" the security instrument held by American Acceptance Corp. Folkston Motel defaulted on its obligations to both the plaintiff and defendant and Davis repossessed the property. The plaintiff then filed an action against Mr. and Mrs. Davis on the promissory note to which several defenses were filed, one of them being that on October 31, 1963, all parties had a meeting in which they specifically agreed that "defendant was relieved from the obligation on said note and conditional sales contract entirely and that said New York partners (Folkston Motel Corp.) were substituted as obligors thereon in the place of defendant." Folkston Motel in fact paid the plaintiff monthly installments of $2,000 instead of $3,448.34, but credit for the larger sum was taken against monthly installments owing to Davis. When Davis discovered this approximately two years later, in October, 1965, he notified the plaintiff that he was not responsible for the difference in these sums because of the 1963 agreement. The $2,000 payments continued to be accepted by the plaintiff until February, 1968. Defendant therefore contends that there was a novation both by express agreement and by course of dealing relieving him from any further obligation under the contract.
A motion was made for judgment on the pleadings. At the hearing the plaintiff introduced certain evidence composed of various deeds and contracts in issue, and answers of the defendant to interrogatories sued out by it. The court, treating the motion as for summary judgment, entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
This latter section and Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are the same except that a motion for summary judgment under (c) requires 10 days' notice in the Federal and 30 days' notice in the State court. Failure to afford the opposite party an opportunity to submit evidence when the court elects to proceed under Federal Rule 12 (c) (the counterpart of 81A-112 (c)) is reversible error. Pacific American Fisheries v. Mullaney, 191 F2d 137. This, under Federal rule, puts the burden on the court to offer, rather than on the opposing party to request an extension of time, which may of course be waived if it is not desired. The only reasonable assumption is that the law means that where a motion for judgment on the pleadings is converted into a motion for summary judgment, the rules applicable to the latter come into play, including the length of time allowable after notice. As to the Federal Rule, 10 days' notice of such motion (that is, the conversion of a motion for judgment on the pleadings to one for summary judgment) should be given under Rule 56. Moore's Federal Practice (2d Ed.), Vol. 2A, Rule 12, p. 2256, n. 23. This means that in State practice the party opposing the motion may, if he so desires, have 30 days' notice in which to prepare counter-affidavits. The court erred, where the defendants did not waive their right, in entering judgment against them which took into consideration evidence offered by the plaintiff.
2. It is further contended that even if the court erred in entering the summary judgment at the time it was entered the defendants' own admission, taken in connection with the pleadings and legal instruments, demanded a judgment in favor of the plaintiff. We cannot agree with this because we have no way of knowing what evidence the defendants may want to offer. Nor can we make any judgment on whether the record as it presently appears would have sustained such a conclusion. There are of course some circumstances under which a written contract may be the subject of oral novation through substitution of debtors, in which connection see Fuller v. Holsomback, 42 Ga. App. 483 (156 SE 460); Reynolds v. Long, 115 Ga. App. 182 (154 SE2d 299).
Leon A. Wilson, II, for appellee.
Smith, Gardner, Wiggins, Geer & Brimberry, Peter Zack Geer, for appellants.
ARGUED FEBRUARY 4, 1969--DECIDED FEBRUARY 28, 1969.
Friday May 22 17:33 EDT


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